In 1991, the Grief Resource Foundation of Dallas, Texas found that, for them, a good working and practical definition of Grief was “the total response of the organism to the process of change”. Or, if you’re into equations, Change=Loss=Grief.
As a Yogini, I find this definition makes perfect sense to me. In our Yoga practice, particularly asana, we are doing the work of accepting and moving through change. We learn that the nature of all things is that they change. This lesson is reinforced as we move through our physical practice, changing our bodies breath to breath. Our bodies are the metaphor for everything in the external world – ever evolving.
We are all familiar with the emotions that can bubble up during a Yoga practice. Before we get to the good stuff – the bliss – we often feel what can be described as discomfort, unease, frustration, perhaps anger, maybe even queasiness. Could these be grief? What if we saw our practice as a means to grieve the loss we are experiencing because of the changes that are occurring as a result of our dedicated practice? Notice, the definition of grief does not specify what kind of change. Just change. Positive or negative, all changes require us to let go of whatever was there before. Loss. We lose whatever our idea of reality was before we adopt a new reality.
So do we allow ourselves the space to grieve our losses, not only in our Yoga practice, but in our life? So often there is a negative connotation to the word grief but perhaps if we shift our perspective. If we apply some equanimity and begin to see grief as simply a part of change. It is good that we lose some things as we change. What if we had to hold on to everything we ever gathered, physically or otherwise? We’d be very weighed down!
In my own personal practice I’ve been working with this – allowing myself space to grieve that which is changing. For me, it has been a very powerful exercise. It has helped me to be more focused, more aware of what I’m feeling, and ultimately, more compassionate. Grief and loss, like all emotions, are just part of the experience. By accepting and moving through them, rather than resisting, we enhance our entire experience of life.
(Change=Loss=Grief)+(practice +acceptance) = Compassion=Love=Oneness